Thinking about a cheap holiday trip to Slovenia? Why travellers consider calling it one of the most romantic countries in Europe – perhaps because it has that wonderfully Euro-capital feel without the congestion and busy hustle-bustle of other “romantic” favourites like Rome or Paris. But what to do in Slovenia? From east to west, there are outdoor attractions and bohemian experiences to be had. Here is my top ten things to do in Slovenia.
Overlooking the picturesque Lake Bled, Bled Castle is perhaps one of the most charming castles in Europe. The route up is quite a steep climb, which makes exploring the Romanesque halls of this castle so much more of a reward. Don’t forget your camera for the great views on the outdoor terrace, as well as exploring the castle’s wine cellar and shop. And there’s plenty to do elsewhere around the lake.
I have to be honest – my first glass of Slovenian wine was at a travel show (and, as you can imagine, they brought the best they could find). It was delicious and Slovenia, like several other European countries, have figured out that the wine business is indeed a very good business to be in. White is popular, but they also have what’s called a “Cviček” (I can’t pronounce it) which is really dry and light, and the perfect drink on a warm summer afternoon.
Ljubljana is Slovenia’s capital city, and in the city centre you’ll find one of the city’s icons, the dragons on the Dragon Bridge. They’re quite memorable creatures, as the dragon is on the city’s coat-of-arms and found on many of its tourism brochures and in most if not all gift shops. The Dragon Bridge is contemporary, though, and is only about 100 years old.
Many countries in this region, such a the Czech Republic as well as Slovenia, have massive underground caves that are so big they feel like cities. I have no idea how long it took to explore them and some of them even have large sections that still have not been explored. Postojna is one of the more popular spots in Slovenia, perhaps because it is so incredibly large – you’re underground for almost an hour and a half, and there are other tours where you are gone for even longer.
Piran is on the far west Slovenian border, where the country slips quietly out into the Adriatic Sea. Not far to the north is Italy, and not to far to the south is Croatia. It’s a special place, with plenty of scenic lookouts, quiet terraces, and one of the prettiest city squares in the country.
There are so many hiking areas and paths, many with awesome waterfalls. The Savica waterfall is one of the more popular, though the walk there is even nicer – you can walk one way and take a bus back if you prefer, but don’t forget your camera.
Maribor is the second largest city in Slovenia (after the capital), and it’s one of the oldest cities, with a lot of varying influences throughout its history, including links to the first wine growers in the area as well as the Turks and Austrians. You’ll find hints of these influences walking around the old town square and down along the waterfront. It’s a gorgeous town and well worth the visit.
I didn’t make it to Celje, but apparently it’s one of the most preserved towns in Slovenia, with buildings that are centuries old. One in particular is the castle that sits high above the town -and it’s difficult to get to without a car. Once at the castle though, you have to hike up a narrow set of stairs to get to the top of the tower, which is where the real view of Celje begins. Everyone who’s done this raves about it, so it’s high on my list too.
An easy day-trip from Ljubljana, Kamnik is just a 45 minute train ride from the capital. The town itself is one of those fairytale downs tucked away between mountains and rivers, and there are several opportunities to get some elevation so you can see all the orange roofs that dominate the city. There are several old churches and castles (some in disrepair or total ruin) that are worth a look around.
Ljubljana is a gorgeous city at any hour of the day, but at night it turns into a picture postcard that reminds me of other perfect medieval towns like the smaller cities in Belgium. Ljubljana is safe (or no less safe than any other European capital), and a great thing to do is to walk along the Ljubljanica River, admiring the buildings reflecting in the water. It’s just dreamy.
Have you been to Slovenia? What’s your favorite?
Posted : Wednesday, April 6th, 2011 at 11:00
Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.